5 Kitchen Truths from Sophia Loren

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

You probably know Sophia Loren as the Italian screen siren and fashion icon, but did you also know that she’s an accomplished cook with two cookbooks to her name? And then there’s that famous quote about spaghetti. Allegedly the bombshell famously once said, “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” This may or may not be true, but she does make a mean spaghetti and also has some nuggets of kitchen wisdom to share.

You might be wondering how I happened to have a conversation with Sophia Loren. It turns out she’s the godmother of a new mega-ship, the MSC Meraviglia, and I was lucky enough to be in Le Havre, France, for the ship’s christening. I scored a one-on-one with the paragon of elegance and was allotted exactly seven minutes.

At the scheduled time, I was ushered into a plush lounge. There she sat, poised and stunning in white, a red rose tucked into her bosom. Her sheer force of presence was a tangible and mightily intimidating thing, but feigning calm I said, “I’m here to talk about food.”

“Food?” she replied, turning to me eyebrow arched, drawing the syllable out melodiously.

Here’s what she had to say.

5 Kitchen Truths from Sophia Loren

1. It’s okay to stick to what you know.

She’s written several cookbooks, but when it comes to cooking for people she loves, like her sons, she sticks to the basics. She might opt for a “put it in the oven” pizza or easy recipes she already knows how to make like pasta or a simple fish dish. She also tends to skip, or at least go easy on, desserts, because she finds them hard to do right.

2. The best place for hard conversations is the kitchen.

According to Sophia, when you’re cooking is the best time to have tough conversations with people — especially your family. “You come out with things that haven’t been spoken before,” she says. “There’s a harmony in the kitchen; you can talk about delicate things.”

3. You can absolutely eat pasta every day.

Current food trends notwithstanding, you shouldn’t skip out on pasta, she says. “Look at it. Take one bite, two bites, three bites.” Stop there, but this way “you can have it every day.”

4. You don’t need to plan for every eventuality.

When I asked Sophia what she eats when she comes back from vacation, she says, “I open the refrigerator and see what’s inside.” In other words, don’t overthink it. Enjoy your vacation — you can always order takeout.

5. Sometimes the best food for the situation is no food.

“What should you cook for a romantic meal?” I ask, foolishly. “Nothing,” Sophia Loren says, and waits for the next question. (Subtext: “Why would anyone want to eat when love is in the air?)

Have you made Sophia’s famous chicken cacciatore?